Dave Sobel is host of the podcast The Business of Tech and co-host of the podcast Killing IT. In addition, he wrote Virtualization: Defined. Sobel is regarded as a leading expert in the delivery of technology services, with broad experience in both technology and business.
In this video, Sobel discusses a common shortcoming within MSP marketing efforts: company websites. Many websites use buzzword-laden language and fail to provide the information customers care about.
Transcript follows below.
Dave Sobel: Today, I am going to answer a listener who asked, "You mentioned on your rebuttal to the comments regarding e-commerce that a website should be about the customer and not the MSP. Can you elaborate on that, specifically on what that looks like?"
I love a good discussion topic like this.
There's a concept I latch onto often when I think about messaging: "It's not about me, it's about you."
Think about someone at a party. Two people are talking. One keeps going on and on: "I did this," "We did this." You know exactly who I'm talking about -- the person who just talks about themselves. Now compare that to someone being asked about their interests. That's a very different conversation. The first asks questions, and the second answers them in ways that they connect over information sharing.
People do love to talk about themselves. That's a well-known selling tactic, to ask questions. But what people do not like is a braggart. If you spend too much time on yourself, you lose the interest, and the trust, of the other party.
Make your website about your customers
Now, let's apply that to a website specifically.
This is all about language and the way the information is presented -- in particular, the difference between what something is and does versus the benefits of that. As a potential customer, I don't actually really understand what your managed service is. Put yourself in your customer's head. They're a lawyer, a doctor, a plumber, or maybe an accountant or office manager. Their expertise is not IT. In fact, they are looking for an IT company specifically because they want someone to help them.
Thus, your choice of words on your site is what I'm talking about. Just like that conversation at party, are you bragging about you, or are you talking about helping them?
Here's an example to break it down. I pulled [these sentences] from a MSP's website.
Our industry-leading security information event management (SIEM) tools will monitor, detect and protect against all security-relevant events. We use a layered security model that combines the latest threat intelligence with a deep understanding of every possible angle of vulnerability.
How many of those words do you think a customer actually understands? It even includes the acronym! Let's see. Buzzword bingo: security information event management, security-relevant events, layered security model, threat intelligence. Do you think potential customers actually understand this?
Just for the record, this example I pulled from a website actually lists "No Geek Speak" as a benefit below that paragraph on their website. I kid you not.
How about this. If you offer "DNS Protections" as one of your products, do you think potential customers know what DNS is, and why you would protect it?
Let's think about it this way, too. Let's assume for a moment on your website you have a menu bar that includes "Managed Security Service," "Managed IT Service" and "Cloud Managed Services." If you're a customer, what do you need?
Now, I want to contrast this with another services space: financial advising. Again, there's some complexity to the way they sell, too. Here's their approach.
- "You dream it, we'll help you live it."
- The big button [that says], "Start planning."
- A section [that says], "What you get with us is a partner, a plan, and best-in-class products and services."
You know what they aren't listing? The specific products and services. In fact, it's the planning they focus on. The big call-to-action buttons are to connect to an advisor.
And for those wondering about my e-commerce statement, they have that, too. They have interactive tools to ask what the goals are, my demographics and electronically let me book the actual appointment without waiting on a call back.
The content is written in way that's about the customer's outcome -- my outcome. My dreams, my goals -- not what they are selling me. There are no buzzwords about IRAs, SEPs, 401(k)s. It's not a menu of services. It's information about planning to get to the goal.
Tips for revising MSP websites
Let's apply that back to the IT provider's website.
Are you focused too much on the details of the products or services rather than what you get?
Take your editing pen to your website. What is the simplest, purest and easiest message you can convey? Will a fifth grader understand it? Will they know what to do?
There's a myth that consumers -- customers -- want choice. They don't. What they really want is confidence that they are making the right choice.
That's your goal: Can you convey information that they need to make the right choice, and remove information that takes away from that goal?
Buyers want to feel empowered. They want to feel confident. They do not want to be confused. You want to answer their questions, not provide information that confuses them.
So, your goal here is to present just enough information.
Now, some additional tips.
Ask yourself, "Could anyone say this?" Among my favorite benefits that anyone could say is, "Our people make the difference." Now, don't get me wrong. I absolutely believe that people make a difference in a business. But who wouldn't say this?
Instead, make sure your claims are tangible and they are relevant to your audience, not to you. What expertise are you bringing that is uniquely you? How do you measure success for your clients, and how do they know they have achieved it?
Make it about them and not about you.
About the Author
Dave Sobel is host of the podcast The Business of Tech, co-host of the podcast Killing IT and authored the book Virtualization: Defined. Sobel is regarded as a leading expert in the delivery of technology services, with broad experience in both technology and business. He owned and operated an IT solution provider and MSP for more than a decade, and has worked for vendors such as Level Platforms, GFI, LOGICnow and SolarWinds, leading community, event, marketing and product strategies, as well as M&A activities. Sobel has received multiple industry recognitions, including CRN Channel Chief, CRN UK A-List, Channel Futures Circle of Excellence winner, Channel Pro's 20/20 Visionaries and MSPmentor 250.